The demand for CPAs is growing across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the national need for accountants will rise by 10% between 2016 and 2026. Demand is slightly smaller in West Virginia but is still trending in a positive direction. In 2014 the state had 4,800 accountants, and by 2024 that total will grow by 2% to 4,900. The median salary in 2016 was projected at $59,110, but that is likely to increase as companies recruit more accountants. If becoming a CPA sounds like something you are interested in, the following guide illustrates exactly how to become a CPA in West Virginia.
To become a Certified Public Accountant CPA, you need to obtain a degree and complete the experience requirements. After you complete your education, you will need to take the CPA exam to become a certified public accountant CPA. When you pass the CPA Exam in your state, you will become a certified public accountant. Becoming a CPA is challenging but rewarding. Here’s a guide to what can expect in the process of becoming a licensed CPA in West Virginia.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The West Virginia State Board of Accountancy (WVBOA) issues CPA licenses and requires all license holders to meet minimum standards for education:
All CPAs must have a bachelor's degree with at least 150 credit hours or 225 quarter credit hours. The degree must be earned from an accredited four-year institution. It must also include the following coursework:
At least 27 credit hours of accounting coursework focused on specific topics:
- 6 credit hours on financial or intermediate accounting
- 6 credit hours on auditing and financial information systems
- 3 credit hours on taxation
- 3 credit hours on managerial, non-profit, government, or cost accounting
- 9 credit hours of elective accounting courses
At least 27 credit hours of business or business-related coursework focused on specific topics:
- 3 credit hours on economics
- 3 credit hours on finance
- 3 credit hours on marketing
- 3 credit hours on statistics
- 3 credit hours on management
- 12 credit hours on business-related electives
Featured Online Programs
Campus and Online Degree Options in West Virginia
An associate degree will give you the basic knowledge you need to start an accounting career. You can definitely find entry-level positions in West Virginia with an associate degree. However, to receive promotions and become a CPA, a bachelor’s degree in accounting will likely be necessary. Learn More
Most accounting jobs in West Virginia will require a bachelor’s degree, as they do in most states. However, working in accounting support position while pursuing a degree part-time or full-time is possible. Learn More
Many accounting students in West Virginia choose a master’s degree as a way to complete the necessary CPA educational requirements. A master’s degree in accounting is also another way to earn a higher salary. Learn More
Doctorate or PhD
Online Degree Programs
Online accounting degree programs in West Virginia are available at nearly all degree levels, from an associate degree to a PhD. You can also study various concentrations in accounting with online degrees. Learn More
Complete the Uniform CPA Exam
The Uniform CPA Exam is a standardized test administered to almost all CPA candidates to determine basic skills and aptitude. The exam is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) through the CPA Examination Services (CPAES).
Follow these steps for success:
Complete the initial application packet from the WVBOA. The packet is available for download online. Applicants may also call the office at (304) 558-3557 with questions and requests.
Mail the completed application to the West Virginia State Board of Accountancy, 106 Capitol Street, Suite 100, Charleston, WV 25301-2610. Include the following documents along with the application:
- An official college transcript from whatever institution awarded you a bachelor's degree
- Character witness statements from two non-relatives as well as one CPA
- A 2" x 2" photograph of your face and shoulders
- A completed Letter of Intent to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam
- Any exam fees
Allow the WVBOA some time to review your application and approve your request. You should receive a Notification to Schedule (NTS) from the NASBA within five days of submitting your application. If you do not receive notification within this window, contact the state's exam coordinator at 304-558-3557.
Schedule the time and location you want to take the Uniform CPA Exam. There are testing sites in Charleston and Morgantown. There are testing windows offered in the first two months of each quarter. You are allowed to take as few or any many test sections as you would like during any test session, but you must complete all four within 18 months.
Make special accommodations if necessary. They are available if you can demonstrate a disability or another obstacle that could inhibit test taking. There is a special section on the exam application to make this request. It's also possible to contact the state's exam coordinator directly.
Prepare for the exam and arrive at the testing facility at least an hour before the exam begins.
Expect the NASBA to issue your score to the WVBOA, which will then issue it to you in the mail. If you passed the exam your name will also appear on a list posted on the WVBOA website.
Meet the Experience Requirement
At this point you are well on the way to becoming a CPA. Before granting a license, however, the WVBOA requires all candidates to earn extensive on-the-job experience:
Working for one year in an accounting position. This experience must occur within four years of applying for a CPA certification. It can take place in a government office, private accounting practice, non-profit organization, academia, or public accounting firm.
Develop core competencies. The WVBOA expects all CPA candidates to have experience and aptitude in the following subjects:
- Management advisory
- Auditing, compiling, and reviewing financial statements
- Preparing tax returns
- Performing tax research
- Offering financial advisory
- Keeping books and records
Track the experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. Their CPA license must be granted by West Virginia or by any other state with the exception of Colorado, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands.
Complete the Experience Verification Form. The form is available for download from the WVBOA.
Ask the supervising CPA to complete his or her section of the form. That person must state the dates when you worked and list the kinds of responsibilities you performed. Finally, they must sign the document in the presence of a notary.
Apply for a CPA License in West Virginia
After you have met the requirements for education, examination, and experience in West Virginia you are eligible for a CPA certification. Until that license is granted it is illegal to call yourself a CPA or offer the services of a CPA. Follow these steps to complete the final step:
Download the Application for Initial Certification/License from the WVBOA website. Complete the application, then submit it to 106 Capitol Street, Suite 100, Charleston, West Virginia 25301. Applicants must also submit these supplemental documents:
- An official transcript from the institution that awarded you a bachelor's degree
- The Experience Verification Form signed by the supervising CPA
If you have a CPA license from another state it's possible to expedite the licensure process in West Virginia. File an Application for Reciprocal License with the WVBOA. Also include a 2" x 2" photo, official college transcripts, and any applicable fees. It may also be necessary to file and Experience Verification Form. Call the state board office at (304) 558-3557 to check.
If you have a CPA license from another country it may also be possible to expedite the licensure process. West Virginia follows guidelines established by the NASBA, which recognizes licenses from these international jurisdictions:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Instituto Mexican de Contadores Publicos
- Chartered Accountants in Ireland
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Candidates must pass the NASBA’s International Qualification Examination (IQEX) to demonstrate they have equivalent CPA skills. After passing they are able to apply for licensure in West Virginia. Applicants from non-approved jurisdictions must have their education evaluated by the NASBA International Evaluation Services and also pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
Keep Up With Continuing Education
A CPA must complete specific requirements for continuing professional education (CPE) in order for the WVBOA to renew their CPA license:
All CPAs are required to complete 40 hours of CPE every year. The only exemption is CPAs in their first year of licensure. They are not required to complete any CPE.
CPAs must complete 4 hours of ethics training in every three-year period. That includes training in ethical reasoning and professional conduct. The WVBOA has authorized several entities to provide this training:
- West Virginia Society of CPAs
- West Virginia Public Accountants Association
- West Virginia Tax Institute
- Local CPA societies
It is up to you to verify that all CPE hours meet the state's standards. They will not verify programs in advance. Those standards include:
- You cannot claim hours for any activity in which you provided a service, accounting or otherwise, to clients.
- You cannot claim hours spent giving presentations to groups of non-accounting professionals.
- Time spent writing informal reviews of professional journals or other accounting publications does not count.
- All CPE hours claimed must meet the standards set out in the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs issued jointly by AICPA and NASBA.
- Self-study courses count as long as you receive a certificate of completion.
- Published articles and books count as long as you are listed as a writer and have a statement from the publisher.
CPE hours are reported to the WVBOA using an online reporting tool. You are required to supply the name of the program, the dates of attendance, completion certificates, and any supplemental documents. CPAs must maintain their own records of CPE hours for at least 4 years in case of audit.
Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in West Virginia
An accounting auditor is an essential part of proper operational business practices. Some people work for large auditing companies and others become internal auditors. These accounting professionals work to improve processes and procedures, as well as to control risk. Accounting auditors will have to continue education to remain current on laws and regulations. Learn More
Personal Financial Planner
Some accountants prefer to become personal financial planners. These accountants work with individuals rather than organizations or businesses. It will be essential to have exceptional communication skills, as well as to firmly understand tax planning, retirement planning, portfolio management, and more.
A fund accountant typically works for investment companies, such as investment funds and hedge funds. These accounting professionals are responsible for the managing and monitoring of financial transactions, interest and yields, and financial report development. This type of fund accounting holds individuals and organizations accountable for their transactions. Learn More
Tax accountants can work for a variety of employers including small businesses, large corporations, non-profits, and government entities. It’s also possible to be self-employed or to work for dedicated tax accounting companies or firms. These individuals must remain current on all new accounting laws each year. Learn More
West Virginia's accounting profession is on the rise. With predicted growth of 8.5% between 2012 and 2022, there are a lot of opportunities to come. In fact, Workforce West Virginia notes accountancy as the second most sought profession in the state. With a few years of experience under your belt, you could earn up to $69,907 and if you earn your CPA certification you will surely earn even more. Though coal seems to be on the wane in West Virginia, other industries such as biotech, aerospace, and automotive are on the rise. Even alternative-energy appears to be on the rise for West Virginia, offering new and lucrative opportunities for its accountants.
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West Virginia Accounting Frequently Asked Questions
What are the accounting employer types in West Virginia?
In West Virginia, a variety of employers exist just like any other state, including Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers of the Big Four CPA firms. It’s also possible to work for various government entities and companies of all sizes and the state has a large gambling industry that requires highly advanced accountants.
What is the mid-career West Virginia accounting earning average?
The average mid-career salary for an accounting manager is $60,000 in Charleston, West Virginia. Accounting professionals in West Virginia can earn a higher salary by continuing education throughout the course of their career. Salaries will also vary based on location, employer size, experience, and more.
Which certifications or licensure are necessary to become an accountant in West Virginia?
Standard accounting jobs will often require an accounting bachelor’s degree. However, licensure and a certificate are typically only required for CPAs as per the West Virginia State Board of Accountancy. Certificates are available as a way to specialize and increase your salary.
Do any colleges or universities in West Virginia have accounting degrees online?
West Virginia has a number of highly reputable online accounting programs including West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, and the University of Charleston. Each year, more West Virginia colleges and universities offer online accounting programs at all levels and in all types of programs.